Hong Kong: "The Horses Run Backwards."

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April 29, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Like many other expatriates here in Bangkok, I decided to leave Thailand during the Songkran holiday festival. Songkran marks the beginning of the rainy season here. The tradition is to go to temple and sprinkle a bit of water on the head of the Buddha.

Nowadays kids celebrate by loading up their water pistols and firing on anyone in range. Adults load a barrel of water in a pick-up truck and careen around town showering pedestrians and hapless motorbike drivers.

So where to go?

I looked at a map of Asia and asked myself where I haven't been. I decided on Hong Kong and Macao, only a three-hour plane ride. I booked April 10 - 16.

Hong Kong was a good choice. And it was good decision to be away.

The benign Songkran turned into a messy Songkram (war, fighting)

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Hello, Just to let you know that at the moment I am a tourist in Hong Kong. I arrived last Friday night and I will stay until Thursday. Yesterday I strolled in the park among the riots of Southeast Asia women, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines who were socializing on their day off. There are also riots of tourists from Japan, China and Korea.

Hong Kong is modern, clean and cool, cooler than I am used to so I brought a jacket and sweater. I haven't needed my scarf yet. Today I expect to explore the New Territories and tomorrow I plan to visit Macao. I will return to Bangkok on Thursday evening. I hope that by then, cooler heads will prevail among the red shirts and the yellow shirts.

Cheers, Blue Shirt Jan

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Bangkok

20 April 2009

Dear Friends,

I received several replies to my letter in which I explained that I was away (luckily) in Hong Kong during the "demonstrations" in Bangkok. The notes were comforting as well as amusing. Here they are. Perhaps you will also be amused....

Jan

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Patricia G: "I was thinking about you today and whether or not you were in Bangkok - glad to hear you are away for a brief, but safe period"

David B: "Are you meeting with Taksin? Don't bring him back with you on the plane, OK?"

Phyllis O: "Good to hear that you are safe!"

Cam H: "The Western news sometimes exaggerates the true conditions or makes it seem that unrest exists in every square kilometer of the country. So I indeed do hope all is calm. Thanks for keeping us updated. It is nice to have the inside scoop:)"

Marilyn G: "Glad to hear that you are safe for the moment. Maybe it is wise to rethink your return to Thailand until things cool off. Listen to a mother!!"

Dodie S: "Have a great trip. Don't lose your blue shirt in Macao!!!"

Mike M: "What are the girls like in Hong Kong?"

Nils B: "I'm glad to hear that you are having a nice time. But please be careful about labeling yourself a 'blue-shirt'. In Pattaya, 'blue shirts' attacked the red shirts and Thaksin said the blue shirts were paid police provocateurs. "This is more than likely just the beginning of something. Actually, it began when Thaksin was deposed, but still... there is definitely more to come. Perhaps the military will take power soon."

Hal S: "Jan, please be careful. Watch your ass. You're not in Aventura anymore!"

Joe F: "Glad to hear you are in Hong Kong, and safe for now."

Sangduen L: "Dear Khun Jan. Happy Songkran Day from Thailand. Have a good time in Hong Kong."

Janet B: "I'm envious. I really like HK a lot! If you find yourself on Amoy St, be sure to visit Jennifer Li at the Book Attic. Great lady, great used book shop!"

Heather L. "Jan, you are something else. I admire you. Have fun."

Barbara N: "I was just about to write to you. I am very happy you are in Hong Kong. Sounds like a much better place to be. Play it safe."

Philip P: Hi Jan, We loved Hong Kong. I bought a "made to order suit" there. First one! Hope we can visit you some time next year. Keep safe!!!!

Jack C: "Thanks for writing. I have been concerned about your safety. Now enjoy your visit to one of my favorite cities. Beautiful sights and beautiful women. Find one and take her to see the evening light show over HK Island. "If you need advice ask Jacky Tse at Lafon Optical in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Golden Mile on Nathan Road . Tell him you?re a friend of Jack from Chicago. He's making a couple of pairs of glasses for me at this moment."

Vivien L: "I went to China in 1997 and loved it. Hong Kong is very cosmopolitan with great food. You'll love it."

Tom & Marty B: "Enjoy Hong Kong. It always seemed like a fascinating place."

Allen M: "Helga and I loved HK. We have been there several times and we even visited Macao. I regret that I didn't ask you to pick up a half dozen shirts from my tailor and send them to me from Bangkok. My tailor has been sending me shirts for 25 years. Matter of fact I deal with one of the sons now. "I read Tai-Pan before I went the first time and it was incredible to walk the streets of the book. "We also got to the Happy Valley Race Track and to the Casinos in Macao. Won a lot of money in both places. I once figured out that there is more money bet on one race in HK than on a whole day's card at Aqueduct or Belmont. "The only problem is that the horses run backwards."

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"Backwards," indeed.

Cheers everyone,

Jan

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